Is Google your next gaming platform?
Google is definitely not developing a gaming platform, but the tools it will soon offer developers could see a new wave of gaming in just about any device with an internet connection.
Google has quite a few potential game-changing developments in the pipeline. Just between Chrome OS, Google TV and Google Wave you have a suite of tools that should put the internet giant in front of your eyes more often than it is already. But do any of these Google announcements offer anything for gamers?
The answer is yes, but not directly. Representatives for Google were careful to reiterate that the company is developing web platforms, not specific solutions, but that it hopes to create the tools developers need to create gaming platforms compatible with the upcoming Google TV platform, for example.
At the Google I/O event in Sydney this morning, Chrome UI lead developer Glen Murphy briefly showed a version of Lego Star Wars playing inside the Chrome browser, launching the game from the Extensions menu, but also let us know that the game was being ported to the Google Native Client, meaning it will run in the browser just like a Flash game.
New web apps like Lego Star Wars will be made available through the Chrome Web Store, a new online marketplace Google announced at the annual I/O developer conference in the US last week. The Web Store will act as a repository for web applications, and if you add the store and Google TV together you end up with a catalogue of web-based games accessible via the 50-inch LCD in your living room. The TV is just one place these games will soon be found, with the possibility of devices like smartphones and tablets delivering the same gaming experience using the same tools.
That is just one likely outcome, the opportunity is also there for other major players in the gaming ecosystem to jump on Google's expanding web platforms and deliver gaming in entirely new ways. Companies like Valve could translate the success it has already had with its Steam software for PCs and Macs to the Google TV platform, bringing with them the wealth of independent developers it has done business with in the past and offering them an audience that is unavailable through traditional gaming channels.